I was soaked in sweat at the end of that perilous mission. I had been thrown into it without any prior knowledge or experience. I survived the “zombies” – but just barely!
Was it a dream? Or was it fantasy? Perhaps it was a mix of both, but what I had just experienced was a virtual reality (VR) game where I was strapped upright onto a swivel base, where in that reality I would be battling zombies. And as my avatar ran, so did I, for real, while strapped in place and swivelling 360°.
That was an exhilarating, heart-stopping, adrenalin-pumping workout for 10 minutes.
‘Reality’ is amazing
This experience was part of the many VR games available at the Esc Experience Lab onboard World Dream, the latest luxury cruise ship to hit the waters. There is also another zombie VR game while “riding” a very scary roller-coaster, VR race games involving sports car racing and even a Star Wars-themed one, and two other different VR experiences.
Want to try skydiving or deep-sea diving? With the Icarus equipment, you can.
But perhaps the most popular VR experience was the Finger Coaster. What? Well a screen will prompt you to pencil in your version of a roller-coaster – the crazier, the better. And it has to be long enough, or else the system would not allow it. Then it would create a 3D imaging of the actual roller-coaster.
After that, you are strapped into a mock roller-coaster to experience a virtual ride with all the bumps and shakes and ups and downs of your very own roller-coaster creation.
Crazy? Definitely! It was also quite fun watching others “ride” their self-made rides – the shrieks, the screams, the joy – quite entertaining and infectious.
We were quite lucky to be among a select group to witness the launch of World Dream, the sister ship of Genting Dream.
World Dream is the second in the Dream Cruises fleet of ships (the first luxurious Asian cruise line), that belongs to the Genting Group. It was launched on Nov 17 by Genting Group CEO and chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay in the presence of Genting Hong Kong president Colin Au and Genting Cruise Lines president Kent Zhu, among other bigwigs, during a glitzy show onboard which cut away to a live video of a gigantic champagne bottle being smashed against the ship (the usual ship-christening tradition), followed by a bagpipe band and a glorious fireworks display that could be seen all around Kai Tak and in Hong Kong harbour.
The ship’s godmother was also announced – it was none other than Lim’s wife, Puan Sri Cecilia Lim. She is also the godmother of Genting Dream, which had moved its home port from HK to Singapore two days earlier. She took her task as godmother quite seriously, I noticed. Very sportingly, she happily tried out the Finger Coaster VR experience with her friends the very next day.
Dining at sea
Virtual reality is fun but the real bits are equally enticing. First off, the food options. Onboard are inclusive restaurants, which means you do not have to pay for your meals as the cost is already factored into your cruise fare. The restaurants are: The Lido, on Deck 16 (which has an extensive buffet selection and great ocean views) and Dream Dining (on two levels) for Chinese set meals.
If you feel like trying something else (which is chargeable), you’re in for a treat. There are some fine-dining establishments as well as others that are more affordable. For those who enjoy fine Cantonese dining, there is the Silk Road & Cabaret, which has a cabaret show for diners; Umi Uma, which offers fantastic Japanese and teppanyaki (I truly think I had some of the best Japanese food ever, here – the unagi and the kurage being the standouts among many fine dishes); the popular Prime Steak House & Seafood Grill, for meat and seafood lovers; and Blue Lagoon, which serves South-East Asian favourites and is open 24 hours a day.
There are also Hot Pot on the Boardwalk (popular with the Asian crowd), Crystal Life Cuisine and Lobby Cafe. Never mind the numerous bar and lounge options from Deck 6 till the top of the ship at Deck 19.
Passengers have a super treat onboard as the shows they put on nightly at the Zodiac Theatre are world-class. The lighting and the backdrop from the state-of-the-art LED lighting is simply amazing. And that’s just for starters.
The performers are award-wining international artistes and the twice-nightly 45-minute shows are stunning.
There are even teasers of the show late in the night at Bar 360, as I found out during my two-night cruise.
Outside of the shows you can party at the only Zouk (the famous Singapore-based international dance franchise) on a ship. There is even a Zouk Beach Club where you can party by the pool. And for some family time, there’s the Cinema as Sea at Zouk and at the Lobby area.
For personal time, leave the kids at the Little Panda Club. Or play the games at the Arcade.
There are all kinds of planned activities throughout the day and night, which all guests can take part in; these are listed daily in the Dream Daily newsletter. So besides just swimming in the pool, there might be games at the pool area, “safe” archery, bubble football, water slides, a rope course and climbing wall and much more to burn off the calories.
Or get their therapists to pound it away at the Crystal Life Spa (or Crystal Life Asian Spa for Asian-style treatments). I tried a short combo of their classic massages very late at night and it sure helped ease my aches and pains.
For more indulgence, there’s always retail therapy onboard!
Ship Within A Ship
The cabins and staterooms are big and comfortable, and some (like mine) actually have a balcony.
If you need WiFi, it can be purchased and you can then download the app which will display everything you need, from activities to dining reservations, on your phone.
However, there is another part of the ship called the Dream Palace where luxury is taken to greater heights.
Massive state rooms, private pool and sun deck, private restaurant all stylishly and luxuriously appointed.
If you are a guest there, it truly seems like a different world, where you are pampered with the service of personal butlers.
Dreamy, yes? But that just about sums up the experience onboard this ship!